Spring planting has officially completed, and the newest phase of agriculture has began for the season. Customer interest and inquiries have shifted to cover crops for Elk Mound Seed (EMS), as it finds farmers and landowners looking to them for custom cover crop blends, individual seed species and advice on a cover crop seed or mix that will provide the best benefit to their soil.
“We aren’t new to the inner workings of cover crops,“ said Dave Balko, head agronomist at Elk Mound Seed and recent winner of the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Outstanding Recent Alumni Award . “We’ve worked with a large number of customers to accommodate their specific seed blends based on soil type, crop rotation and nutrient needs. This can be difficult since most seed companies don’t carry a large enough variety to be able to custom mix blends.”
EMS spends much of its time every late Spring and early Summer researching cover crops to build blends with the highest impact and economic benefit. EMS’s efforts allow them to carry cover crop products that are difficult to find including Sunn Hemp, Hairy Vetch, Berseem Clover, and Crimson Clover. As customers phone in, EMS staff works with them to find the right fit and perfect blend from their cover crop variety. From there, EMS works with farmers to educate and instruct them on the steps to take to get the largest benefit from their cover crops.
“The process of gaining approval, guidance and cost sharing for cover crops is very intensive for farmers,” said Balko. “We want to help make the process as simple as possible for farmers, and the custom blend mixing is a part of that. With our knowledge, we also tutor farmers on next steps to ensure the fullest return of investment on their cover crops.”
How to Effectively Use Cover Crops
All cover crops require different procedures to have them perform at their highest caliber. There is a short list of standard steps and applications that EMS recommends that farmers make
throughout the cover crop process to bring them the most beneficial outcome.
Tips to consider when planting cover crops:
● Have a well planned objective. Knowing the products you’re planting and how they’ll interact with your soils and the following crop is extremely important. In a nutshell, legume and brassica based cover crops typically work well when followed with corn. Winter cereal grain based cover crops work well when followed with soybeans.
● Timing. Timing is absolutely pertinent. Timely application and termination of cover crops can be the difference between success and failure.
● Be sure to gauge how your cover crop system is working. Be sure to try different mixes so you can determine what is and isn’t working for your operation.
● Strongly consider notill farming if you haven’t implemented it already. The benefits of cover crops are greatly improved in a notill system.
● Be patient. Many times, the positive effects of cover cropping systems aren’t seen within the first few years of implementation.
“With these tips and additional guidance, your cover crops success can be improved year over year and bring your land the highest potential,” said Balko. Farmers and landowners shouldn’t be expected to know the in’s and out’s of cover crops. Call upon your trusted seed supplier and Natural Resources Conservation Service center for guidance.
About Elk Mound Seed
Elk Mound Seed is a family-owned seed company located in Elk Mound, WI. Originally part of Zutter Elevators, Elk Mound Seed transitioned to seed in the early 1990’s. E lk Mound Seed offers a wide variety of farm seeds and specializes in native seeds that are difficult to find. EMS also offers a full service bagging and seed mixing facility available allowing them to create custom seed mixes or blends.